This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by LibrarianJessi. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Best First Book category.
If anyone saw the prom boards Amelia Blanco makes on her favorite fashion app, they’d think Ethan Laurenti was her boyfriend. They wouldn’t know that all the plans she’s made for them are just dreams, and that she’s the girl who watches him from the kitchen while her parents cook for his famous family.
When Amelia’s abuelita enrolls her in a month-long fashion internship in NYC, Amelia can’t imagine leaving Miami–and Ethan–for that long. As soon as she gets to New York, however, she finds a bigger world and new possibilities. She meets people her own age who can actually carry on a conversation about stitching and design. Her pin boards become less about prom with Ethan and more about creating her own style. By the time she returns to Miami, Amelia feels like she can accomplish anything, and surprises herself by agreeing to help Ethan’s awkward, Steve-Jobs-wannabe brother, Liam, create his own fashion app.
As Liam and Amelia get closer, Ethan realizes that this newly confident, stylish girl may be the one for him after all . . . even though he has a reality TV star girlfriend he conveniently keeps forgetting about. The “new and improved” Amelia soon finds herself in between two brothers, a whole lot of drama, and choice she never dreamed she’d have to make.
Here is LibrarianJessi's review:
Although I used to mainline teen fiction like there was no tomorrow, I’ve largely taken a break for the last couple of years. This is partly because I spent the last two years reading 300+ adult fiction books while I served on a committee which I lovingly referred to as “My Crazy Ass Reading Committee” but which is properly known as The Reading List Committee. Reading Alterations, I was reminded of the other reason teen fic and I took a break: especially in contemporary teen fiction, I suddenly found myself empathizing with the parents more than the teens, which was shocking and made me feel ancient. I have to admit I suffered from this in Alterations too. I often found myself wanting to smack Amelia upside the head or sit her down for a long talk. Because of this odd tug-of-war between wanting to sink fully into the drama llama-ness of the story and my rational (apparently) adult brain offering distracting advice, my thoughts about the book are fairly split too. So, I’ve decided to resort to every Type A, detail-obsessed librarian’s favorite tool: The Pro/Con List.
Things that really worked for me in Alterations:
- My number one favorite thing about this story was the grandmother/mother/daughter dynamic. Amelia lives with both her abuelita and her mother. Their relationship rings very true with lots of love, expectations, bickering, etc. It’s a complete miracle to have functional, living parents in teen fic, and I really appreciate authors that take the time to create them. Amelia’s relationship with the matriarchs in her life reminded me of Jane the Virgin, the best show on TV right now and the perfect show for every romance reader.
- Amelia’s passion for fashion (yeah I know, I couldn’t resist) is infectious. All the people in her life who love her support her and help her find the confidence to pursue her dreams. Her coming-of-age journey is quite excellent. And for days after finishing the book, I was plagued by the need to hang with Tim Gunn in Project Runway reruns.
- The story created a very positive message about finding your people. Amelia, like many of us, feels like a bit of a weirdo. But suddenly, she finds her fellow fashion people – “Isn’t it amazing how we’re all sort of loners in our regular worlds, but we come here and we all seem to fit”. The experience was not unlike what many of us experience here with the SBTB community. It’s magical and one of the most fundamental parts of growing up and learning to love the person you are.
- As a complete Broadway nerd, I have a slight (read: major) obsession with NYC. Amelia’s trip was an absolute armchair travel delight for me. The city comes alive through her eyes and I was all but drooling to visit again.
- Liam, Amelia’s very obvious OTP (one true pairing), is exactly my kind of hero. He’s nerdy and adorkable and even though it’s not his thing, he totally gets Amelia’s love of fashion and works really hard to help her find her full potential.
Things that really didn’t work for me in Alterations:
- While I appreciated the excellent job Scott did creating Amelia’s parentals, the story was lacking in the female friendship department. She did have girlfriends – both old and new – but often developing those relationships was sacrificed for other story elements. Often, the relationships or the friend characters fell a bit flat for me.
- It took Amelia too damn long to get over Ethan. Every time she went all googly eyed over him, I wanted to smack her. He was obviously a complete asshat and I had absolutely no patience for her obsession with him. Every time I thought she was making some headway getting over him (and noticing the adorableness that is Liam) she would backslide. There were many times I wanted to chunk the book across the room, but I was reading digital and didn’t want to harm my darling Kindle.
- Because it took her sooooooo long to see past Ethan, we didn’t get nearly enough of the puppy dog eyes and wooing with Liam. My heart hurt for him every time he was on page. He had it so bad and Amelia was just so oblivious. When they finally get to the HEA, I didn’t feel like the romantic groundwork was laid for the two of them and I also felt like Amelia owed him a bit more groveling.
In the end, my struggles with the romantic subplot outweighed my enjoyment of other parts of the story. I would have enjoyed it quite a bit more if the romance wasn’t there at all.